The SUV, thus far known by its codename, Mahindra W601, has officially been christened the XUV700, and not XUV500, as we all expected. Mahindra dropped a surprise press release announcing this, complete with the new SUV’s logo, cleverly timed just minutes before the global reveal of a rival 7-seat SUV. But guerrilla marketing tactic aside, the real surprise was Mahindra’s decision to give a new – and very obviously grander – name to the successor of its popular XUV500. This has some implications.
The etymology of XUV500
You have to go back 10 years to when the first XUV500 (W201) was launched. We called it “the most important Mahindra since the Scorpio”, and rightly so, since this was the brand’s first attempt at an in-house-developed, monocoque-chassis FWD-biased SUV. It was a bold new direction for Mahindra that ushered in a radical new design language, as well as many technological firsts. It also birthed the ‘XUV’ family of SUVs, which would later go on to spawn the XUV300, and we all learnt that, even though it was spelled with two zeroes, Mahindra would prefer you pronounced it as “five double oh”. All this carries a lot of weight, not just for the model, but for the brand on the whole. So why, for the successor, would they suddenly abandon the XUV500 name? As I see it, there are two possibilities.
In with the old, in with the new
It’s been done many times before – keep the old model running for as many years as possible alongside its replacement. The current W201 XUV500 has obviously been upgraded to meet both, the crash test norms of 2019 as well as the BS6 emissions norms of 2020, at a not-inconsiderable cost, so keeping it around a little longer alongside the new W601 XUV700 would help justify that expense. Tata Motors kept the Indica and Indigo on sale alongside their replacements, as did Ford with the Fiesta, Honda with the City, Hyundai with the i10 and Grand i10, Maruti with the Dzire, and Mahindra itself seems like it will be doing something similar with the TUV300 and Bolero.
So yes, Mahindra could keep the W201 around, position it a bit lower, and reserve the XUV500 badge for it. However, it must be considered that the W201 is 10 years old now, and there’s only so much further its life can be extended. At some point, it will have to go off sale, leaving an XUV500-badged void in the model range that would then have to be filled with an all-new model. This can’t be a sub-four-metre model – that’s the XUV300 – and it can’t be positioned too far below the XUV700 either, because of the value the ‘XUV500’ name carries. Therefore…
Tricks of the trade
It’s fair to assume that, as with its W201 predecessor, the W601 will also be offered in a 5-seat configuration at a lower price point. Ten years ago, it might have been prudent to just market these as lower variants of the XUV500, but as is the trend these days, two- and three-row derivatives of the same car use different model names altogether. It’s why Tata has the Harrier and the Safari, and Hyundai has the Creta and the Alcazar, and it’s also why we think the XUV500 name may be quietly being kept on the down-low for the two-row version of the W601.
It makes sense when you think about it – the badges even correlate directly to the number of seats in the car. Mahindra could even, like its aforementioned rivals have done, imbue the new W601 XUV500 with some visual differentiators to set it apart from the XUV700. The only difference is that, while those rivals were introduced in 5-seat guise first, Mahindra would be revealing its 7-seater first. Do you think this is something that would work? Let us know in the comment section below. Either way, we suspect the XUV500 nameplate hasn’t been consigned to the pages of history just yet.
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